This is an opinion article written by David Reimer. His views may not necessarily represent those of Texas Storm Chasers as a whole and are his own.
For those who don’t know this week is Severe Weather Awareness Week. National Weather Service offices across the state have been sharing statistics about tornado season and more information on how you can be ready for severe weather. Earlier this evening we shared two graphics from the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma related to this special week. Each graphic contained a simulated tornado warning with the expectation that it would be treated as a real one to gauge how much social media played a role in spreading weather information. We shared both graphics on our Facebook page to help spread their message. Each post has been shared and commented on dozens of times. There’s just one big catch, though…one post has positive feedback, while another has some not so positive feedback on it. Can you guess the main difference between the two graphics?
Can you guess which graphic has generated the negative feedback? I’ll give you a hint: It has something to do with a current political topic in the United States. If you guessed Spanish, you are correct! In fact here are a few comments left on our Facebook post of the spanish warning graphic. Both graphics read nearly the same.
The graphic generated some positive reviews and some negative reviews. I knew this was going to happen based on the current political climate and opinions on the matter. I’m actually surprised it didn’t devolve into a several hundred comment hate-bashing fight (who knows, that might happen later tonight). Never the less I’m still disappointed to see the behavior of some of those who replied to the thread. I don’t speak Spanish, I don’t understand most Spanish words, and I don’t write in Spanish (I have enough problems just maintaining my English grammar skills thanks to dysgraphia with a little dyslexia mixed in.) That said: Everyone deserves to receive warning of dangerous weather. I don’t care if you speak English, Spanish, German, French, Japanese, or that language out of the baby cop movie several years back. The fact some think that someone does not deserve a warning during life-threatening weather really makes me mad.
Loyal TSC followers will know we have posted only a few non-English graphics or posts during our entire history. I could count on one hand how many times we’ve done it. Regardless of your belief on the current political issue, no one deserves to go without hearing weather warning just because they don’t speak English. I learned that today at a workshop I attended, and I believe it even more after reading research done on past severe weather events. To suggest otherwise is simply unreasonable and cruel. This issue goes beyond a political debate – it can be life or death. That’s why I am so angry that after one graphic not in English that some folks seem to think they have more right to weather warnings than others simply because of their spoken language.
I am in firm belief that EVERYONE deserves life-saving weather information, NO MATTER THEIR LANGUAGE. As a group serving the general public, we (as the weather community) need to find a way to do that. We’re not that group and don’t plan on becoming that group. There are dedicated media outlets that provide spanish content and weather coverage in Texas. We won’t be becoming a dual-language page. However, I do reserve the right to occasionally share very important weather information in Spanish in addition to English. Like I said previously, I’ve only done that a handful of times in five years. Hurricanes would be a good example where we might include the Spanish version of a new hurricane advisory below the English version here on the blog when we have a extreme-impact event setting up for the state. The last time we had a extreme-impact hurricane event in Texas was Hurricane Ike in 2008 (before we were around).
What do you think? Share your feedback with me. My email is email@example.com. I’d love to read your thoughts on the matter (positive or negative).